Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Agile Publishing - Continuous Delivery of Working Product

Customer satisfaction by rapid, continuous delivery of useful software -- Principle Number 1 of the Agile Software Development approach (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development). What does it mean for an Agile Publisher?

To my mind, this is one of the most important pieces of Agile. This is what ensures that what the customer envisions is what is being built and that if not, corrections/realignment can be done early and at the least cost. It has some secondary advantages as well: regularly tracking progress against a budget; early start on customer training; and easier collaboration with client/stakeholders, to name a few.

What does this mean to electronic publishers? Publishing describes a large, complex industry that delivers information to a user community. There are many forms of electronic publishing: newsletters, online books, references, electronic databases, and so on. There is a commonality to software development in that published products (or assets) go through a development/authoring process, a QA (or editing) process and delivery.

An Agile Publisher would apply the principle of "rapid, continuous delivery" to each electronic product. In practice this could mean author submissions of partial manuscripts, developer delivery of database subsets, and so forth. Any of these early and frequent data feeds provides a foundation for "rapid, continuous delivery", which the permits the goals of early and ongoing review and realignment, budget tracking, etc.

But, to take advantage of this, the electronic publisher must also have a deployment infrastructure that will create a working version of this electronic asset. In other words, the software and processes must be in place to publish the early edition of the assets.